Transportation bill has $1.5M for Lynn ferry

August 11, 2012
By Sean Leonard/The Daily Item

Gov. Deval Patrick's signature on Thursday all but assured that Lynn officials will be doing some boat shopping next year.

The $1.5 billion Transportation Bond Bill includes $1.5 million for the purchase of a commuter ferry to provide service between Lynn and Boston.

State Sen. Tom McGee, D-Lynn, Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Transportation, said money to buy the ferry has now been authorized but the final step will be approval to spend it by the governor and Seaport Advisory Council chaired by Lt. Gov. Tim Murray.

Given that the Advisory Council has already invested $5 million to build a ferry terminal on Blossom Street extension and dredging in preparation for a ferry, McGee said he's optimistic Lynn will have a ferry by next fall.

"The (Patrick) Administration has made this a major priority and the lieutenant governor has been to Lynn numerous times (for the ferry project) and has been a partner with us in making this a reality," McGee said Friday.

Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy on Friday said inclusion of the ferry money in the bond bill "is great news for Lynn," and "with Senator McGee behind it there was a tremendous effort getting this done."

Kennedy said summer will likely be the busiest season for the year-round ferry and that "anything that helps us with our transportation needs and brings people to visit the city for a day" is a major plus.

Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Corp. Executive Director James Cowdell said the ferry funding "is unbelievable news."

"The lieutenant governor really championed this cause," Cowdell said, "from the beginning there were people who said it was never going to happen, and now it will happen."

Cowdell said he is confident the city will purchase a ferry, solicit bids for a company to operate the ferry and have the service running by next fall. He said he anticipated the service would initially be between Lynn and Boston, but that island excursions might also be worked in.

The bond bill also includes $7 million for the reconstruction of Canal Street in Salem; $3.5 million for the planned overhaul of Humphrey Street in Swampscott; and $2.6 million for the design and construction of the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway spanning communities including Lynn, Swampscott, Marblehead, Salem, Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Gloucester, Rockport, Essex, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury and Newburyport.

McGee said Lynn Shore Drive could see new signage and other enhancements related to the scenic byway project.

McGee said the Legislative session that concluded last week was a successful one for his committee, which he said faced many challenges, chief among them solving the MBTA's short-term deficit.

After many public hearings around the commonwealth attended by thousands of commuters and after thousands more submitted testimony via email, McGee said, "We were able to find common ground to solve the MBTA's short-term problem." That was done with a combination of service cuts and fee hikes for commuter rail, rapid transit, bus service as well as the MBTA's The Ride service serving elderly and physically disabled commuters.

McGee said there is greater work to be done next year to come up with a plan to address the commonwealth's larger transportation funding crisis.

"We know how important transportation is for economic growth," McGee said, noting that in Boston "there are cranes working and new hotels are being built, and that's because of the investment in the Silver Line, the Central Artery and the Ted Williams Tunnel.

"Transportation investment is how to make the economy grow and that's where the discussion needs to go," McGee said. "Because if you can't get there from here then you're not going to see growth in business."

Sean Leonard can be reached at


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